In San Francisco Bay Area, Comfort Food Takes Center Stage

By Emma Krasov. Photography by Yuri Krasov

San Francisco and its environs have long been known for multi-cultural cuisines and culinary innovation. With a focus on locally sourced, farm-to-table, sustainable, and organic ingredients, some of the recent trends in the Bay Area include international comfort food; plant-based, vegetarian, and vegan; Asian-inspired cuisine; and fusion creations that combine elements of different culinary traditions in unique and exciting ways.

At the recently celebrated InterContinental Mark Hopkins San Francisco 50th Anniversary, honoring the first InterContinental property in North America, the legendary Top of the Mark bar and lounge on the 19th floor of the historic hotel, presented culinary offerings from six continents where InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) properties are located.

In addition to the panoramic views of the city skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and the San Francisco Bay, and a live jazz band, the event guests were treated to Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça, sugar, lime, and fresh mint; Piper Heidsieck champagne, from one of the oldest champagne houses in France, Italian, Spanish, and California wines, and an array of comfort foods.

Fish and chips, sliders (mini-burgers), empanadas (Latin American turnovers), gyoza (Japanese potstickers), fried plantains, pigs in a blanket (tiny hot dogs wrapped in pastry), and other finger foods were followed by mini eclairs, French macarons, glazed doughnuts, and one-bite sweet pies.

While the food service in one of the most famous San Francisco hotels offers a full menu, and leaves nothing to be desired, it’s those little morsels at the upscale Top of the Mark that many visitors to the city choose for their memorable night out watching a sunset from the top of the world.

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Red Hot Chilli Pepper restaurant serving Chinese-Indian cuisine known for its bold, spicy flavors, became so popular so fast that now serves its warming and comforting specialties, like Calcutta Chicken, Chili Garlic Noodles, and Fish in Szechuan Sauce all over the Bay Area—in San Carlos, Fremont, and Folsom as well as in Dallas, Texas.

The restaurant’s menu reflects a fiery combination of Chinese seasonings and cooking techniques with Indian ingredients and flavors. This fusion cuisine originated in Kolkata (a.k.a. Calcutta), India in a turn-of-the-century Chinatown, and developed into a culinary marvel with a unique flavor profile that so many people, not necessarily of Chinese of Indian descent found wonderfully appealing.

“Our food is not all about spice, it is about flavor,” says Chef Bharat Dhamala. “Our non-spicy dishes are as delicious as our spicy ones. Everything is cooked fresh and in real time on a flaming wok at intense temperatures.”

Owner Snehal Patel has even bigger plans for the future. “Recreating the authentic taste from Chinatowns in India is what Red Hot Chilli Pepper is all about. We plan to open many more locations in multiple cities across the United States in the near future.”

All those hot and spicy dishes can be paired with refreshing original house cocktails from the Red Hot Chilli Pepper bar, like Zen Mojito (rum sake, muddled lime, mint, fresh lime juice and soda) or Blazing ‘Brave Buddha’ Margarita (tequila sake, lime juice, simple syrup, orange juice, chili flake and sugar rim). 

Mango Coconut Mousse Cake is a good choice for a light and satisfying desert.

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Give Me Sum is a delivery-only dim sum restaurant that brings so much more than traditional dumplings and steamed buns right to your door.    

Launched last year, the concept proved to be especially timely for the house-bound workforce in the reality of sheltering in place and remote working. However even now, in our [hopefully finally] post-pandemic life we’re as busy as ever, and hot comfort food delivery remains a convenient and highly desirable option.

Since its first opening last year, Give Me Sum quickly expanded, adding 25 new locations in California, Washington, Arizona, Hawai’i, and New Mexico. 

Besides the signature marinated pork steamed bao and various small plates, the restaurant also offers an array of appetizers and main courses that exceed the dim sum concept, but fit in rather nicely. Glazed wings or chicken skewers with a side of Korean garlic chili sauce, Sum crispy cauliflower with crunchy garlic and aioli, egg rolls, loaded Togarashi meaty fries, salmon teriyaki veggie bowl with pickled ginger, and beef teriyaki sliders are some of the popular items to choose from.

For a desert lovers, Chocolate Lava Cake meets the highest expectations, and beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages can also be ordered along with the meal.

For more information follow Give Me Sum on Instagram @GiveMe.Sum, Twitter @GiveMe_Sum, and Facebook at GiveMe.Sum.